How “Progressive” Cities Can Claim They Lower Their Crime Rate

The view here at C&C is that if you shred and demoralize the police force, and have lax prosecution policies, sooner or later (probably sooner) your crime rate will increase; prospective criminals will notice when the cost of doing business goes down.  Still, that might not always be the case.  Seattle  —  as progressive a city as there is  —  may be on the cusp of showing us how to dramatically decrease the number of convictions no matter how much you shrink and demoralize the police force.

Here’s the story, titled “Seattle City Council mulls law that could result in dismissal of many misdemeanor crimes.”

The Seattle City Council is considering new legislation that would create a legal loophole that would make substance addiction, mental illness or poverty a valid legal defense for nearly all misdemeanor crimes committed in the city.

The council’s consideration of the plan has occurred with virtually no public discussion about the proposal, which has been included in the municipal budgeting process. The council has not, so far, conducted a standalone meeting to discuss the idea.

Scott Lindsay, the former public safety advisor for the city, said Seattle would be in a class of its own if it ultimately enacted the ordinance.

“I’m not aware of any legislation like this anywhere in the United States (or) even globally,” he said Monday. “All cities have criminal codes to protect their citizens from criminal acts. This would essentially create a legal loophole that swallows all those codes and creates a green light for crime.”

Here are the specifics:

If approved, the ordinance would excuse and dismiss — essentially legalizing — almost all misdemeanor crimes committed in Seattle by offenders who could show either:

  • Symptoms of addiction without being required to provide a medical diagnosis;
  • Symptoms of a mental disorder; or
  • Poverty and the crime was committed to meet an “immediate and basic need.” For example, if a defendant argued they stole merchandise to sell for cash in order to purchase food, clothes or was trying to scrape together enough money for rent. The accused could not be convicted.

“If you don’t feel very protected right now, this would wipe out almost all remaining protections that we have,” Lindsay said.

While this program would be extreme, less florid versions of it can be found throughout the country.  They are one of the principal enablers of perhaps the most galling lie of progressive “law enforcement”:  That we can reduce the police force, reduce convictions, and reduce incarceration and still be just as safe.

Our 30 year long crime wave (1960-1990)  —  a period when we had fewer police, greater faith in rehabilitation, and less incarceration than for the most part we have had in more recent decades  —  has already shown us in the starkest terms what works to reduce crime  —  and, just as important, what fails.

Not too surprisingly, the only way around this lesson is deceit, so deceit is what progressives are happy to deliver.  If and when it adopts this plan, Seattle is sure to tout that its criminal convictions have decreased, not risen, as its liberal policies take hold  —  sure in the knowledge that the casual reader of this news will very likely miss that the cause of decrease is not less crime, but simply the refusal to call crime by its name.  When you steal the plasma TV while stoned, you see, it’s not really theft, it’s that you had “symptoms of addiction.”

But the TV is still gone, and the merchant will be making plans to do business (and hire employees) somewhere else, in some locale still so bourgeois that people are expected to pay for what they want to take home.

P.S.  If you think Seattle’s plan will remain confined to misdemeanors, I have this bridge…..